Most artists who make prints scan the original artwork and then clean it up in Photoshop before making the print. For example, I have a client who makes cheerful greeting cards that are printed on white card stock. While her original illustrations are painted on white paper, that white paper does not look pure white once it is scanned. The scanned paper background needs to be removed, and the artwork needs to be optimized for printing. Since this process can be hard to explain in words, I made a YouTube video showing a couple of ways that I clean up artwork in Photoshop.
Cleaning up scanned artwork in Photoshop
Before I post the video below, here is a quick summary of how I clean up artwork in Photoshop. Begin by using a high quality scanner for your artwork. I didn’t realize how critical this was until I bought a good quality scanner. I bought this “Epson Perfection” by the way, and am very happy with it.
Once you scanned your art, open up the image in Photoshop and create a new layer via copy. This new layer allows your background layer to serve as a backup, in case you make any big mistakes. Once the copy layer is done, place a color fill sandwiched between your copied scanned art, and the original scanned art sitting on the bottom layer.
The color fill allows you to easily see what you are erasing, which keeps track of your editing progress. In my video, I show a few ways to clean your artwork. You can erase the background around the edges, or you can use the quick selection tool to select an object (like one of the individual fossils) and place it in a new document.
The original fossil scan looked like this:
The final, cleaned artwork looked like this:
In addition to my fossil illustration example, I also included an example with a delft painting. For my delft design (also available in my shop), I wanted to remove the entire background (not move individual portions of an illustration). I created my new layer via copy, selected the background with the magic want tool, hit delete, and then added a white layer below my newly edited painting. The final, cleaned up artwork looked like this:
My video tutorial does a much better job of explaining the process of cleaning up your artwork:
I also referenced this Wacom tablet tutorial. I highly recommend it if you are new to using a tablet.
For those who are interested turning their scanned art into vector illustrations, check out this post!